Three Arms to Hold You
April 11, 2010 1:09 AM   Subscribe

This question is for ad critics, fashionistas, New Yorker readers, and photo experts who like to declare "'Shopped!": What is UP with the Fairchild Fashion Group ad on page 9 of the April 12 New Yorker?

Fairchild Fashion Group is a publisher of fashion-related B2B magazines, most notably Women's Wear Daily. The full-page ad, at first, looks fairly standard. It features a model in a long red dress striding down a catwalk, a clutch in her right hand, and an "I mean business" expression on her face (as much as a young model in harsh makeup can have that expression). The ad's primary text is WE MEAN BUSINESS. A pretty normal ad for a B2B publisher hoping to reinforce its brand name among the media types who also read The New Yorker.

I scanned it and put it here.

But wait. Look more closely at the model's right arm. Or, should I say, her TWO right arms.

I know models are freaks of nature, but they're generally not THAT freaky.

I'm a photographer, and I understand motion blur that you get from long exposure of a moving subject. This isn't motion blur created by a model swinging her right arm as she sashays down a runway, even with multiple flashes. It's Two. Separate. Right. Arms!

I Googled a bit, and I couldn't find anything about this ad, or if it's part of a totally surreal ad campaign on the part of Fairchild. So, WTF? My theories are:

1.) This issue of the New Yorker hit the streets soon after April Fool's Day (I get it later on the West Coast), and Fairchild was just screwing around with us for fun.

2.) It's a serious ad campaign. Because nothing says WE MEAN BUSINESS like a three-armed model.

3.) There's some avant-garde fashion designer out there who's sewing extra right arms into a line of evening gowns, and I'm totally behind the times in hearing about it.

4.) An ad designer decided to Photoshop together two images of this particular model striding down this runway -- maybe because her face looked better in one shot and the dress looked better in another. And in blending these two (or more) images, the designer accidentally left in two right arms. Then, somehow, nobody else noticed it before it went to press.

I'm leaning toward 4, but I'd appreciate any other explanations!
posted by lisa g to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
Best answer: It's supposed to be one model boldly stepping in front of another model, right? She means business!
posted by sergent at 1:16 AM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: It's the model that went out on the catwalk before her walking back. You can see it's a left hand holding a purse and the edges of the outfit (maybe purple?) behind her. At most fashion shows (but not on Project Runway) the next model will walk out while the previous model is returning.
posted by girlhacker at 1:18 AM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: Yeah, it looks like there's two models. The one in front, and one behind her in a purple dress - you can see parts of it behind her left hip and right thigh. The outer arm belongs to the model in red; the inner arm to the woman in purple. Her head is obscured.
posted by tracicle at 1:19 AM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: Ah jeez -- looking more closely, there might be another model directly behind the first one, walking in the other direction, but she's almost totally hidden except for the arm. Still, you'd think a photo editor would notice the third-arm effect on the casual viewer?

(Maybe I shouldn't ask questions at 1:20 a.m., but I was pretty baffled by this.)
posted by lisa g at 1:21 AM on April 11, 2010

There is also something going on behind the model's neck, I've got to vote second model. And I don't get the point of the ad.
posted by Marky at 1:26 AM on April 11, 2010

Yeah, another model behind her. In the ad biz thats called a 'tangency'. And its a bad one. No art director or creative director that I've ever worked with would have let it pass. Wonder who the ad agency was. Anyone?
posted by Muirwylde at 3:17 AM on April 11, 2010

Two models, the one behind her is wearing a purple dress. Bad choice of photograph. Art director needs a spanking.
posted by dabitch at 4:20 AM on April 11, 2010

Yeah, I almost sent that off to Photoshop Disasters myself until I noticed the orientation on hand #3 and the other model's knee. Horrible!
posted by mimi at 5:20 AM on April 11, 2010

Voting for a photoshop award - they missed the arm on the model behind her.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:38 AM on April 11, 2010

My guess is that they did it on purpose, maybe inspired by this: a series of '70s ads for Dingo Boots. I noticed the old Dingo Boots ads years ago, in a blog about subliminal advertising.
posted by iviken at 9:34 AM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

it's a hack ad concept executed by a hack artworker for a hack client. what's is the mystery here?
posted by krautland at 11:50 AM on April 11, 2010

I prefer to think of it as the rag-trade. It's a fascinating business, but the glamour is mostly fake.
posted by Goofyy at 5:48 AM on April 14, 2010

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